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Burning for the Sea

November 17, 2013

The dream of Seasteading is catching on in the greater Burning Man community. The cultural separatist festival has long held a contentious relationship with local authorities whom they pay for event permits every year. In exchange, the authorities provide law enforcement and emergency services to the festival, some of which, such as drug busts, are not welcome.

In their search for total creative freedom over their own culture and lives, it was inevitable that Burners be drawn to the last Earthly frontier – international waters. The melding of Burning Man’s culture of creativity and self-reliance with the more explicitly secessionist dream of Seasteading was the raison d’être for the Ephemerisle festival in the first place.


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Google’s mysterious barge parked at Treasure Island further stokes the imagination of Burners drawn to the creative freedom of the high seas. It is now known to be used for some sort of massive floating art and technology exhibit, to be over 50 feet tall and 250 feet long when construction is finished.

Google has been largely closed-mouthed about its waterborne behemoth. After rumors circulated that it was going to be a showroom, a floating data center that could be used in the event of a natural disaster, or perhaps a big party boat, the company issued a statement Wednesday calling it an “interactive space where people can learn about new technology.”

Asked to comment Thursday on the planning documents, which we obtained from the port under the Freedom of Information Act, Google officials sent us the same brief statement they issued a day before.

Whatever it is, the barge’s backers expect it to draw 1,000 visitors a day as it sails from spot to spot around the bay. Among the envisioned mooring sites are Piers 30-32 and other San Francisco docks, Fort Mason, Angel Island, Redwood City and Rosie the RiveterHistorical National Park in Richmond.

As yet, there is no information as to whether the Google barge backers were inspired by Ephemerisle.

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